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TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-10, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE JUDICIAL MERIT SELECTION COMMISSION, SO AS TO MAKE A TECHNICAL CHANGE AND PROVIDE THAT NO MEMBER IS ELIGIBLE TO SEEK JUDICIAL OFFICE WHILE SERVING ON THE COMMISSION AND FOR ONE YEAR THEREAFTER; TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-20, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF CANDIDATES AND TO PUBLICIZE VACANCIES IN JUDICIAL OFFICES, SO AS TO MAKE TECHNICAL CHANGES TO CLARIFY THAT PERSONS DO NOT SEEK TO BE NOMINATED BY THE COMMISSION BUT, RATHER, SEEK JUDICIAL OFFICE; TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-30, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE HEARINGS HELD BY THE COMMISSION, SO AS TO ADD A PROVISION THAT, WHEN THE COMMISSION FINDS A CANDIDATE UNQUALIFIED, THE CANDIDATE MUST BE FURNISHED A COPY OF THE COMMISSION'S REPORT CONCERNING HIS QUALIFICATIONS, AND TO PROVIDE FURTHER THAT THE REPORT MUST BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL; TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-35, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE CRITERIA CONSIDERED BY THE COMMISSION IN DETERMINING THE QUALIFICATIONS OF CANDIDATES FOR JUDICIAL OFFICE, SO AS TO MAKE A TECHNICAL CHANGE BY DELETING THE TERM "NOMINATION"; TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-70, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR IN EITHER HOUSE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND RELATING TO THE SEEKING OF PLEDGES OF MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE JUDICIAL CANDIDATE IS NOT PERMITTED ON THE FLOOR DURING THE TIME HE IS LISTED AS A QUALIFIED CANDIDATE AND THE ELECTION IS PENDING, AND TO FURTHER PROVIDE THAT THE COMMISSION SHALL RELEASE A LIST OF QUALIFIED CANDIDATES RATHER THAN RELEASING ITS NOMINEES; TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-80, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE COMMISSION SELECTING THE THREE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATES FOR A JUDICIAL OFFICE AS ITS NOMINEES, SO AS TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO RELEASE A LIST OF ALL QUALIFIED CANDIDATES FOR THE OFFICE, TO PROVIDE THAT THE LIST OF CANDIDATES IS BINDING ON THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AND TO PROVIDE FURTHER CONFORMING CHANGES; TO AMEND SECTION 2-19-90, RELATING TO THE JOINT SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY HELD FOR THE ELECTION OF JUDGES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION SHALL ANNOUNCE THE LIST OF QUALIFIED CANDIDATES FOR EACH JUDICIAL RACE.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 2-19-10(G) of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 391 of 1996, is further amended to read:
"(G) No member of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission is eligible
for nomination and appointment to seek judicial office as a judge or justice of the state court system or administrative law judge division while serving on the commission and for a period of one year thereafter."
SECTION 2. Subsections (A) and (C) of Section 2-19-20 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 32 of 1999, are further amended to read:
"(A) It is the responsibility of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission to determine when judicial vacancies are to occur in the administrative law judge division and on the family court, circuit court, court of appeals, or Supreme Court and to expeditiously investigate in advance the qualifications of those who seek
nomination judicial office. For purposes of this chapter, a vacancy is created in the administrative law judge division or on the family court, circuit court, court of appeals, or Supreme Court when any of the following occurs: a term expires; a new judicial position is created; or a judge can no longer serve due to resignation, retirement, disciplinary action, disability, or death.
(C) The Judicial Merit Selection Commission shall announce and publicize vacancies and forthcoming vacancies in the administrative law judge division, on the family court, circuit court, court of appeals, and Supreme Court. A person who desires to be considered for
nomination judicial office as justice or judge may make application to the commission. No person may concurrently seek more than one judicial vacancy. The commission shall announce the names of those persons who have applied."
SECTION 3. Section 2-19-30 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 388 of 1998, is further amended by adding an appropriately lettered subsection to read:
"( ) A candidate found unqualified for the office to be filled must be furnished a copy of the commission's report as to his candidacy. The report concerning this candidate must be kept confidential and is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Chapter 4 of Title 30."
SECTION 4. Section 2-19-35(B) of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 391 of 1996, is further amended to read:
making nominations determining qualifications, race, gender, national origin, and other demographic factors should be considered by the commission to ensure nondiscrimination to the greatest extent possible as to all segments of the population of the State."
SECTION 5. Subsections (B) and (C) of Section 2-19-70 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 388 of 1998, are further amended to read:
"(B) The privilege of the floor in either house of the General Assembly may not be granted to any candidate or any immediate family member of a candidate unless the family member is serving in the General Assembly, during the time the candidate's application is pending before the commission and during the time
his nomination by the commission he is listed as qualified for election to a particular judicial office by the commission and that election is pending in the General Assembly.
(C) No candidate for judicial office may seek directly or indirectly the pledge of a member of the General Assembly's vote or, directly or indirectly, contact a member of the General Assembly regarding screening for the judicial office until the qualifications of all candidates for that office have been determined by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission and the commission has formally released its report as to the qualifications of all candidates for the vacancy to the General Assembly. No member of the General Assembly may offer his pledge until the qualifications of all candidates for that office have been determined by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission and until the commission has formally released its report as to the qualifications of
its nominees the candidates to the General Assembly. The formal release of the report of qualifications shall occur no earlier than forty-eight hours after the nominees have list of qualified candidates has been initially released to members of the General Assembly. For purposes of this section, indirectly seeking a pledge means the candidate, or someone acting on behalf of and at the request of the candidate, requesting a person to contact a member of the General Assembly on behalf of the candidate before nominations the list of qualified candidates for that office are is formally made by the commission. The prohibitions of this section do not extend to an announcement of candidacy by the candidate and statements by the candidate detailing the candidate's qualifications."
SECTION 6. Section 2-19-80 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 49 of 2001, is further amended to read:
"Section 2-19-80. (A) The commission shall
make nominations release to the General Assembly of candidates a list of the names of all qualified candidates and their qualifications for election to the Supreme Court, court of appeals, circuit court, family court, and the administrative law judge division. It shall review the qualifications of all applicants for a judicial office and select therefrom and submit to the General Assembly the names and qualifications of the three candidates whom it considers best qualified for the judicial office under consideration. If fewer than three persons apply to fill a vacancy or if the commission concludes there are fewer than three candidates qualified for a vacancy, it shall submit to the General Assembly only the names and qualifications of those who are considered to be qualified, with a written explanation for submitting fewer than three names.
nominations list of qualified candidates of the commission for any judgeship are is binding on the General Assembly, and it shall may not elect a person not nominated found qualified by the commission. Nothing shall prevent the General Assembly from rejecting all persons nominated. In this event, the commission shall submit another group of names and qualifications for that position. Further nominations in the manner required by this chapter must be made until the office is filled.
(C)(1) If the commission does not find the incumbent justice or judge qualified for the judicial office held and sought, his name
shall must not be submitted to the General Assembly for re-election and upon expiration of his then current term of office, he shall cease serving in that judicial position.
(2) If the commission finds an incumbent judge not qualified for the office sought, or if an incumbent judge dies, withdraws, or becomes otherwise disqualified for the office sought between the time he makes application for the office and the date of the election
therefor, the election for the office may not be held at that scheduled time, and the commission shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter to make other nominations for the office as though a new vacancy without an incumbent exists in that office, including reopening the application process with all required notices. Nothing prevents the commission from including in its new nominations list of qualified candidates the names and qualifications of persons other than the incumbent judge it included in its previous nominations list.
(D) The commission shall accompany its
nominations list of qualified candidates to the General Assembly with reports or recommendations as to the qualifications of particular candidates.
(E) A period of at least two weeks must elapse between the date of the commission's
nominations release of its list of qualified candidates to the General Assembly and the date the General Assembly conducts the election for these judgeships."
SECTION 7. Section 2-19-90 of the 1976 Code, as added by Act 391 of 1996, is amended to read:
"Section 2-19-90. The General Assembly shall meet in joint session for the election of judges. The date and time for the joint session
shall must be set by concurrent resolution upon the recommendation of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission. The Chairman of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission shall announce the commission's nominees list of qualified candidates for each judicial race, and no further nominating or seconding speeches shall may be allowed by members of the General Assembly. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of the vote of the members of the General Assembly voting in joint session."
SECTION 8. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:34 A.M.